French energy giant EDF has said the cost of building the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant could increase by up to £2.9 billion.
It raised the bill for the project in Somerset to between £21.5 billion and £22.5 billion, an increase of £1.9 billion to £2.9 billion compared to what was previously estimated.
EDF said the range depends on the “effectiveness of action plans” to be delivered in partnership with contractors.
The plant, being built by the British arm of EDF in partnership with China General Nuclear Power, has a planned capacity of 3,200MW and is expected to provide around 7% of the UK’s power needs.
EDF said in a statement: “Cost increases reflect challenging ground conditions which made earthworks more expensive than anticipated, revised action plan targets and extra costs needed to implement the completed functional design, which has been adapted for a first-of-a-kind application in the UK context.”
Under the Contract for Difference (CfD), however, there will be no impact for UK consumers or taxpayers.
A BEIS spokesperson said: “The government negotiated a competitive deal on Hinkley Point C which ensures consumers won’t pay a penny until the station generates electricity. Any increase in costs will be borne entirely by EDF and their investment partners and not by consumers or taxpayers.”
Stuart Crooks, Managing Director for Hinkley Point C added the risk of a delay in delivering the project’s milestones has increased but the aim to generate first electricity in 2025 remains unchanged.
In a letter to staff at EDF Energy, he said: “The UK needs a substantial amount of reliable low carbon power alongside renewables and your work in restarting nuclear new build will make a major difference to the fight against climate change.
“This is the country’s first nuclear plant for three decades. Restarting the new build industry hasn’t been easy or without its own costs but we’ve done it and created thousands of skilled jobs for people and businesses in the South West and across Britain.
“Getting this far has cost more money than we anticipated. Our earthworks are complete but challenging ground conditions meant we overspent to finish them on time. We estimate an increase in budget to between £21.5bn and £22.5bn.”